Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't let real vote fraudsters off the hook

If only Tallahassee's Republican leaders paid as much attention to actual voter fraud as to the potential kind. Revelations that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement failed to interview a key witness about fraudulent voter registration applications does nothing to engender trust that the state's top law enforcement agency is above playing politics. Gov. Rick Scott and the rest of the Cabinet, which oversees the FDLE, should send a clear message that they expect better, even when investigations are tied to the Republican Party of Florida.

In the lead-up to the 2012 election, championing the prevention of voter fraud was all the rage in Tallahassee. The Legislature made it harder to run voter registration drives. Scott orchestrated a faulty purge of the voter rolls. They claimed they were protecting the sanctity of the voting booth.

But by September 2012, the real threat was from a voter registration drive operated by a private vendor for the state's Republican Party. Dozens of counties reported suspicious voter registration forms. The party fired the vendor. The FDLE subsequently opened five investigations, including one that emerged when Jeff Jewett, field coordinator in Strategic Allied Consulting's Jacksonville office, discovered one his employees had submitted at least seven bogus registration forms.

Jewett's tip resulted in the employee receiving probation and a sentence of community service, but the FDLE apparently had no desire to look any deeper. As the Tampa Bay Times' Michael Van Sickler reported, Jewett was never contacted by investigators. Another case of 11 fraudulent voter registrations in Fort Myers was closed without any prosecution. Three investigations — in Pensacola, Miami and Tallahassee — remain open.

Scott claimed last year that he embarked on his voter purge because fraud could only be rooted out when the state started looking — never mind that there was no evidence of widespread abuse. Yet when the FDLE had evidence of fraud, it stopped short and failed to interview a key witness. That's not acceptable. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam need to insist that the FDLE take its investigation wherever it leads. Anything less looks like Tallahassee leaders are willing to condone actual voter fraud.

Comments
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18